The Taliban gained massive new war equipment and devices, complete with U.S.-made Humvees, planes, helicopters, night-vision goggles, and drones besides biometrics devices that could aid in the identification of Afghans who assisted coalition forces. Videos have come forward showing militants inspecting lines of vehicles and opening crates of new firearms, communication gear, and even military drones. According to a Reuters report citing an intelligence assessment, the equipment includes over 2,000 armored vehicles, and up to 40 aircrafts.
The devices, known as HIIDE, for Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment, were seized last week during the Taliban’s offensive, according to a Joint Special Operations Command official and three former U.S. military personnel, all of whom worried that sensitive data they contain could be used by the Taliban. HIIDE devices contain identifying biometric data such as iris scans and fingerprints, and are used to access large centralized databases. It’s unclear how much of the U.S. military’s biometric database on the Afghan population has been compromised. The US didn’t only collect information about criminals and terrorists; the government appears to also have been collecting biometrics from Afghans assisting diplomatic efforts, in addition to those working with the military.
A BBC report said that according to US government figures between 2010 to 2012, when the US for a time had more than 1,00,000 soldiers in the country, the cost of the war grew to almost $100 billion a year. A senior Pentagon official told the US Congress that by 2018 the annual expenditure was around $ 45 billion. According to the US Department of Defense, the total military expenditure in Afghanistan until September 2019 had reached $ 778 billion, in addition, the US state department – along with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other government agencies – spent $ 44 billion on reconstruction projects. That brings the total cost – based on official data – to $ 822 billion till 2019, but it doesn’t include any spending in Pakistan, which the US uses as a base for Afghan-related operations.
Reports are coming that US officials aren’t just worried about the Taliban using weapons against civilians. They’re also concerned the equipment could be seized by ISIS or handed over to China or Russia.